Hailie Deegan took home her third K&N West Series victory Saturday night and once again it didn’t come without some controversy.
Deegan’s first two wins came after last-lap passes where she has made contact with the leader. Saturday night at Colorado National Speedway was no different. On a late restart Deegan’s teammate Derek Kraus dove to her inside getting into turn 1 and doored her. Kraus moved the #19 up the track but both continued on 1-2 with Kraus leading. Pretty standard move for short track racing and one that Deegan used to win the Las Vegas dirt race at the beginning of the season. The internet commenters were not pleased with Kraus’ move.
In return Deegan went into turn 3 on the last lap and took out Kraus. She went all Denny Hamlin on Chase Elliott, remember that incident? The one where NASCAR fans nearly rioted about the “abhorrent” move by Hamlin? “There’s not place in racing for that.” Yet today NASCAR fans are lauding Deegan for the move.
Deegan led a race-high 64 laps and clearly had one of if not the best cars in Colorado Saturday night. Kraus went from the lead to an 8th place finish. Deegan meanwhile took home the trophy and the flag. That right there is the difference in the two moves. Kraus moved her but she only fell to second. Deegan’s move ruined a good points night for Kraus and then excuses it under the guise of “he doored me first.”
Let’s be clear here, short track racing is all about beating and banging, after all, “rubbin’ is racin.'” Roughing someone up on a short track isn’t frowned up, it’s actually encouraged. And it should be. However, you can’t pick and choose who gets to do it and who doesn’t get to. Kraus doored Deegan there is no disputing that but what Deegan was far worse. Yet fans have morphed Kraus’ move into the more aggressive one and have attacked him.
Deegan is a bright spot among NASCAR’s ever dull corporate pool of prospects. She comes from a family with enough personality to have three reality shows. On top of that, she’s not afraid to get up on the wheel and move someone.
However, when someone moves Deegan the same way she did Kraus fans can’t complain about that. The precedent has been set with Deegan’s move. The sport needs more aggressive driving as she displayed. But will fans support that sort of aggressive driving when it’s against a fan favorite? Likely not.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff